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Employment Tribunal Exposes Paralegal’s ‘Sham’ Redundancy

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

It is regrettably common for employers to cite redundancy as a reason for getting rid of workers they do not like, and when cases of this nature come before an Employment Tribunal (ET), its job is to find out where the truth lies. In Mason Billig v Gardline Shipping Limited, an ET found that a shipping company paralegal’s supposed redundancy was nothing more than a sham.

Mrs Mason Billig had worked for the company for some years and there had never been any complaints about her work. However, a personality clash developed after a man with whom she had a difficult relationship was promoted to head of her department. She had lodged a formal grievance against him and claimed that his bullying attitude and lack of respect for her led her to go on sick leave, suffering from stress.

After several months of absence, Mrs Mason Billig told her employer that she was fit to return to the office but was immediately informed that she was at risk of redundancy. After her employment was terminated, she launched ET proceedings claiming unfair dismissal.

Following a preliminary hearing, the ET condemned as nonsense the multitude of reasons put forward by Gardline Shipping Limited to try to justify her redundancy. It found that the real reason for Mrs Mason Billig’s dismissal was that her boss simply did not want her in the business any more. There was no true redundancy situation and the likelihood was that, after she went on sick leave, her employer had hoped that she would not return.

Remaining issues in the case will be considered at a further hearing.

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